Are you ready to be inspired by someone who is living their best life in their fifth decade? Look no further than Suzy, who has fully embraced all the experiences that come her way, be it travel, enjoying the creative arts or sea swimming! She's not only taking part in the 50 over 50 project but also encouraging others to do the same. Whether you're reaching your milestone birthday or looking for ways to embrace getting older, Suzy's story will make you want to join her on this journey of self-discovery and growth.
Seema: What drew you to the 50 over 50 Project?
When I first saw it, I thought about how I had not had a professional photography session, not even with my children when they were younger. I wondered what that would be like. I thought about this idea that once women become over 50 they become invisible. I’m not sure if I particularly noticed that because I’ve been hiding away all my life! (laughs)
But I’m probably more visible now that I’m older; I’m more confident and I like trying something new, so I thought this would be another new experience for me.
I have also known you for a long time, not in a deep way, but I thought you were a really interesting person and I felt safe. I thought you would listen if I felt panicky and felt ‘Oh no, I can’t do that.’ Because I never used to like getting photos of myself taken and I certainly didn’t like looking at photos of myself. If that was a friend, I would say to them ‘That’s not a good thing, why shouldn’t you be proud of how you look? You know, treat yourself to a nice portrait session.’
So I thought I’d take my own advice: push myself out of my comfort zone and take part in the 50 over 50 project.
How did you find the actual experience of arranging the session with me?
I loved it! I loved how it was tied into the whole idea of International Women’s Day and I enjoyed completing the questionnaire which you asked me to complete beforehand.
I’d never figured out what might inspire me for my portrait session before, but you really inspired me to do that, thinking about ‘Who are my over 50 icons and why? And what do I like about how the style of these icons and what kind of photography do I like?’
I really enjoyed that. And I thought ‘oh well, that’s been really interesting, but I know I’m not really going to like the rest of it. It will be uncomfortable, but Seema will hold my hand through it.’
But on the day, I was really surprised by how much I loved it! It was all women working at the portrait session, in this beautiful building where The House of Hair is based.
The professional make up artist, Rhiannon Soutar, was lovely. I’ve long felt that one could ever work with my kind of complexion but Rhiannon talked to me about her own problems with her skin and what products she uses for it. That created a real bond with her because of how my skin is. And she’s done lots of interesting things. It sounded like Rhiannon is living her best life!
(Suzy, Rhiannon and Seema on the day of the shoot)
And then Lorraine Malcolm who’s the salon owner and creative director at The House of Hair, she was lovely as well. Again, she’s really interesting. I just felt like I talked and listened. I didn’t even have time to feel anxious or nervous! It was such a good experience.
I met the life coach, Tess Day, who is another really interesting woman. So I really enjoyed meeting everyone there.
You made suggestions for my poses which I maybe wouldn’t have considered before. I felt comfortable trying them and I felt in control of how the portraits would look.
Was there a difference in how you were feeling when you came in for your portrait session compared to how you felt when you left?
Definitely, because I was feeling quite harassed as I was going on holiday the next day. I was also thinking ‘Well, I’m not really going to enjoy this.’
But I really enjoyed it. I felt like we could have all just stayed on at the salon; you made me feel that welcome!
How did you feel about seeing the images of yourself in the online photo gallery when we met up afterwards?
I don’t mean to say this to insult you in any way, but I’m surprised at how good they were.
It’s not because I don’t trust you. It’s because I generally don’t like how I look in images of myself. So I was pleasantly surprised.
But the reaction from my friends and family was incredible! It was overwhelming. When they saw them, so many people came up to me and saying ‘Oh you looked amazing!’ and that was really surprising, because I don’t really put images of myself on social media for people to comment on.
I’m 59 now, and I wouldn’t tell anyone these days not to take my picture, whereas I would have done in the past, say five years ago. But now I think ‘Well, people want my picture. My family want to see photos of me.’
It’s frustrating when I look back on all the years when I don’t have pictures of me. You think to yourself ‘I wish I had a picture of when I had that jacket or my hair was like this.’ It’s a shame society can make us feel uncomfortable about our image. That’s not good. We should get comfortable with it.
Is there anything you recommend we do differently?
Well probably for me, I’d recommend not doing a portrait session the day before you go on holiday to Thailand. (laughter) But no, it was all very well explained beforehand, and I had your phone number if I had any questions about the portrait session and I needed to speak to you.
What would you say to anyone who is considering taking part in the 50 over 50 project?
Just do it! It’s such good fun and with you and the team, you don’t feel under pressure to do anything uncomfortable. It was just really good fun! I would highly recommend it to anyone on so many different levels. I would definitely take part in something like this again.
If Suzy's story has inspired you to take part in the 50 over 50 project then get in touch! Go to this link to find out more